11 Best student jobs to have in college

If you’re a college student in need of some extra cash, you should probably get a job while you’re at school. If you are largely responsible for paying for college, then you should definitely get a job in school. There are many different jobs that a student can have. I decided to list, and provide ratings on the eleven best student jobs. I took into account flexibility of schedule, pay, difficulty of work, and long term career benefits. Each benefit was given a grade from A to F. Obviously, A being the best and F being the worst. For example, for flexibility, an A means it’s very flexible. For difficulty of work, an A means it’s very easy (which I think is a good thing). Without further adieu, here are eleven great student jobs you should consider applying for (in no particular order).

1. Campus Tour Guide

Flexibility: C
Pay: C
Difficulty of Work: B
Long Term Career Benefits: B

Have you ever seen those crazy people on campus who are always walking backwards and being followed by anywhere from 12-50 students and parents? Those are the campus tour guides if you didn’t know. If you are really into your university, then I’d highly recommend considering this occupation. Flexibility isn’t the best because you can only work during scheduled tour times. Hours also vary greatly depending on the season (many more students want tours in the spring), which can also hinder flexibility. Pay is minimum wage or a little more. My friend informed me that raises are given after a certain amount of quarters/semesters of service. This may differ from college to college. The work isn’t insanely difficult, but can present some unique challenges. Firstly, you should be interested in your university, because you need to know everything about it and be able to ask the many questions students and parents will have. You will also have to navigate the tour, keep everyone engaged, and deal with any unexpected surprises. Long-term career benefits aren’t that fantastic, but you can greatly improve your public speaking and ability to deal with a variety of questions. Also, leadership is great in the eyes of many employers. Being a tour guide is a great demonstration of strong leadership.

2. Concessions/Stadium Usher

Flexibility: D
Pay: C
Difficulty of Work: B
Long Term Career Benefits: D

If you go to a college with a big time football or basketball program, than working at the stadium or arena can be a dream come true. Being a stadium usher is great because you can just stand there and tell people where their seats are, and you get to watch a free game. Working concessions is great because you get to take in the atmosphere and potentially see the game as well (depending on where the stand is located). Unfortunately, flexibility for this type of work is pretty bad. You can really only work concessions or be an usher when their is a game. In football season, that limits you to working on Saturdays. Basketball season gets slightly better with the occasional weekday night game. The point is though; you are at the mercy of the folks at ESPN, CBS, NBC, ABC, and your athletic conference when it comes to the times you’re going to work. The work can be very difficult, especially when it’s halftime. Usher work isn’t so bad, but working concessions can sometimes be a bit crazy. Long-term career benefits are pretty terrible considering it’s just fast food work. Who knows though, maybe you could somehow meet a star player at a game and become part of his or her entourage? Then your career would be set.

3. Student Librarian

Flexibility: B
Pay: C
Difficulty of Work: A-
Long Term Career Benefits: C

Working in a library can actually be a very fun job. My sister was a librarian at Temple University and enjoyed it very much. Pay and career benefits aren’t so great with being a librarian. Once again, you only get minimum wage (also depends on the campus). As for career benefits, checking books out and putting them back isn’t exactly preparing you for a career as a doctor. However, if you are managing the computer systems, that can be quite beneficial. Not to mention, during downtime you can always read and work on homework, which can help you to do better in school and thereby help your career. The work isn’t terribly difficult, and the scheduling is flexible because of student employees. Hours may also be more manageable, due to the fact that many libraries close early.

4. Office Assistant/Night Watch/Desk Assistant

Flexibility: B+
Pay: C
Difficulty of Work: A+
Long Term Career Benefits: C

Whatever your college or university calls it; it’s the person who sits at that desk in the dorms. Some universities have that person check people in and out of the building. Other universities have that student help with the mail, check equipment out, answer calls, and much more. Flexibility is great because most managers allow students to select what hours they want to work. Students can also work at any hour, because most desks need to be staffed 24 hours a day. Pay is minimum wage. The work is not very difficult at all, considering most of the time, you are just sitting at a desk. If you have other responsibilities like answering the phone or checking people out, then the job isn’t that much more difficult. Any job where people can sit and play on their computers and do homework is pretty easy. Long-term career benefits aren’t that great, given that the job isn’t exactly rocket science. However, all the extra time spent doing homework at the desk when no one is there can significantly help your grades and thereby help your career. My friend said she’d gotten the best grades in her whole college career the year she was an Office Assistant at her dorm.

5. Resident Advisor/Resident Assistant/RA

Flexibility: B
Pay: B
Difficulty of Work: C-
Long Term Career Benefits: A-

I would highly recommend applying to be an RA if you are planning on living on campus and you can stay out of trouble. RAs get a significant amount of perks, and the career benefits are pretty significant. In terms of flexibility, I had a difficult time rating the RA position. On the one hand, your schedule is only rigid when you are on-call or on-duty. Being on call also means that you cannot leave the building. However, I’d like to think that RAs are on call almost all the time because you never know when a student may be experiencing a crisis, or when you may be needed. Part of the job is being able to respond very quickly. Pay is also difficult to gauge because it differs with every university. The benefits such as free room and board amount to a significant amount of cash. Some RAs even get stipends. The work can be very challenging at times, especially when you have to write up people, or deal with a crisis situation. Not to mention, you have to come up with bulletin board ideas, icebreakers, and more. Long-term career benefits are significant because an RA is a leadership position. One of my fellow RAs was hired right away, and all the interviewer kept talking about was how great it was that he was an RA. Having a leadership position amongst your peers is a big plus when companies or organizations are looking at your profile.

6. Research Assistant/Lab Assistant

Flexibility: B
Pay: C
Difficulty of Work: C-
Long Term Career Benefits: A+

This occupation can come in a variety of forms. For the sciences like chemistry and biology, it can be helping a Doctor in the research lab. It can also be helping students in the class lab. For computer sciences, it can be helping with the computer lab and fixing computers or working with students who need extra help. In any case, any occupation where you can work in a lab, or along side a doctor or professor is a great occupation to have in college. Flexibility isn’t the best because lab and research times can be pretty rigid. Pay varies greatly, but mostly hovers around minimum wage. However, some students who are doing very important research can get significantly more pay, as well as other benefits (like a free computer, for example). My one friend was researching Hydrogen Fuel Cells, and he was making more than my dad. The work can be quite difficult. For research, you have to use your mind constantly, and you’re at the mercy of the professor, doctor, or scientist you’re working under. For computer labs, students can need a lot of help, and computers can get pretty messed up, which is very challenging. Long-term career benefits are immense. Doing research in your field of study before you have even graduated will make any person looking to hire you salivate. If you’re going into computers and have experience managing a computer lab, this also looks fantastic. In short, while it may be less pay and more difficult, the career benefits of working in a lab or researching are stunning.

7. Tutor

Flexibility: B+
Pay: B+
Difficulty of Work: C
Long Term Career Benefits: B

Being a tutor in your subject of expertise can be a very nice student job. Flexibility is highly rated because you usually schedule with the student you assign. While this allows you to make changes because of your commitments, keep in mind that the student will also have commitments that you’ll have to adhere to. The pay for this job varies but is always pretty good. Students who work for the university may make less than students who are just offering their tutoring services independently. The work can be surprisingly difficult for many reasons. Many students who are being tutored may decide to not show up, or may cancel frequently. Add in the chance that you may have a student who is either very stupid, or doesn’t care about school at all and is being forced into tutoring by parents, and the job can be quite tiresome. Long-term career benefits vary depending on your career. If you are going into teaching, then tutoring is right up your ally and will look great on your resume. Other benefits include the chance to tutor some athletes and get some autographs.

8. University Shop or Bookstore Worker

Flexibility: B
Pay: B
Difficulty of Work: C+
Long Term Career Benefits: D

If your school has a big time athletic program, than you can find good work in the sports shops on campus helping to sell jerseys, flags, mascot stuffed animals, and any other kind of university apparel. No matter the size of the school, working in the university bookstore is always a great idea. This job can also be great to have just in the beginning of the semester or quarter when a lot of students need books. The flexibility of these occupations is decent. Once again, they are mostly student staffed, so the management understands student commitments. For bookstores, hours can be pretty hectic at the start of each quarter or semester. The pay is minimum wage or a little above with raises available. Other pay benefits include employee discounts on university apparel (which for me would not be a benefit because I’d spend all my money on it). The work can be pretty difficult, especially during busy times. If your team makes a BCS Bowl, prepare for the mad rush of people buying BCS-adorned apparel. Again, if it’s the beginning of new classes, then the bookstore job can be extremely busy, with thousands of students buying and selling books. Long-term career benefits aren’t that significant, but any work experience is great in the eyes of someone looking to hire you.

9. Recreational Facility Worker

Flexibility: B
Pay: C+
Difficulty of Work: A
Long Term Career Benefits: D

One of my friends works at the RPAC (Recreational Physical Activity Center) at Ohio State, and he loves it. The pay is slightly above minimum wage, but it is a very easy job. He told me that he spent three hours just opening doors for people the other day. I found that to be pretty amazing. Long-term career benefits are slim to none, since I doubt opening doors gives you a lot of experience (unless, of course, you’re going to be a professional doorman). The job is very flexible, because students are hired, and so management knows what to expect in terms of schedule conflicts. If your dorm is near a Recreational Facility, you should certainly consider applying for a job there.

10. Student Bus Driver

Flexibility: B
Pay: C+
Difficulty of Work: B
Long Term Career Benefits C+

This job again depends on the size of your college. Many larger colleges have bus routes that run all day. These buses need drivers, and that’s where you’d come in. The flexibility is decent, considering that there are many other student employees in this occupation. However, you have to keep running your route the whole time your working, so breaks may be few and far between. Pay is a little above minimum wage starting, which is good for a college student. The work is of a moderate difficulty. Bus drivers have to go through a significant amount of training before they can start going on the route. Driving a little VW Bug sure isn’t the same as driving a huge bus full of students. Add in the fact that you may have to deal with obnoxious students every now and again, and that’s why this job can be somewhat challenging. However, once you get the routine down and are a master bus driver, it’s not very difficult at all. Long-term career benefits are pretty minimal. However, if you are interested in the truck driving, or bus driving industries, then this job could do wonders for you.

11. Cafeteria Worker

Flexibility: B+
Pay: C
Difficulty of Work: B
Long Term Career Benefits: D

We’ve all heard the jokes about cafeteria food in college. However, working at the cafeteria isn’t that bad of an idea. Flexibility is great because the bosses do understand that they’re scheduling students. Hours tend to vary, but depending on how the cafeteria is run, you may be forced to work only certain hours. If they only serve breakfast lunch and dinner at specific times, that means you may only be able to work at those times. The pay is generally minimum wage with raises given after a certain amount of time being employed. The work isn’t too difficult, but can be quite tiring depending on how busy it is. In terms of long-term career benefits, don’t expect any, unless you plan on being a cafeteria worker in a school.

Of course there are a slew of other great jobs that students can have in college. I mostly tried to consider on-campus occupations. Don’t forget that fast food places, movie theatres, restaurants, and much more would love to have students working there. I’d suggest applying for the jobs I’ve listed here, but don’t ever limit yourself. Remember that benefits and pay can vary significantly from campus to campus. If you are in need of extra cash, or you have to finance your own education, consider these eleven jobs. However, if school’s out, then you need to get a summer job.

Leave a Comment